Three weeks into his new job, Michael Longhurst was visibly excited as he told a packed room about the five plays that will comprise the Donmar 2019/20 season following the theme “important stories thrillingly told”.
Following a brief introduction from Executive Producer, Henny Finch, who said that the new team’s mission was to “heal, connect and try to change the world”, Longhurst took the stage. He immediately infused about the “incredible honour” that taking over this “iconic legacy” means a man who fell in love with a theatre that has given him “so many amazing memories” aged 15.
His first programme concentrates on new writing and comprises a series of “truly astonishing plays that interrogate the world today”.
Europe by David Greig might be 25 years old but is “to play truly for our times”. Longhurst will be directing this opening production himself.
Appropriate by award-winning American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is an “astonishingly funny family drama” and receives its UK première directed by Ola Ince and starring Monica Dolan.
[Blank] by Alice Birch is a co-production with Clean Break directed by Maria Aberg which presents “a kaleidoscopic view across our society” and features an all-female production team and cast of 15 actors.
Teenage Dick by Mike Lew is a Christmas extravaganza modernising Richard III. Longhurst who is planning to direct the show explained that its protagonist to be played by Australian actor Daniel Monks is “an American leader obsessed with Twitter”.
Far Away by Caryl Churchill is now 20 years old and will open in the New Year directed by Lyndsey Turner. Once again, this is a play for our times about “a world sliding into chaos”.
Beyond the mainstage productions, there is a programme entitled Writing Wrongs comprising five monologues primarily by up-and-coming playwrights.
In other announcements, Roy Alexander Weise has been appointed as an artistic associate and, to open up the theatre to a wider audience and encourage those who do not like to plan their lives months in advance, Donmar Daily Release is a project under which 40 tickets will be released seven days in advance for each performance to be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.